Photo Harri Keski-Rekilä, managing director of Opetustarvike Oy.

In Finland, You Can Learn to Drive with Blackboard Collaborate

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The following story is an update of an article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on Dec 27, 2016. Click here for the Spanish version.

Beyond schools and universities, online learning is being increasingly used by corporations in a variety of sectors. An example of this is Finland’s Autokoululiitto, a driving school association that has revolutionized the way driving is taught in the country by using the video conferencing solution Blackboard Collaborate.

Currently, over 400 driving academies are part of this national association, which has been operating for more than 70 years. During that time, Autokoululiitto has been working to improve driving schools in the country by promoting education development, road safety, and driving instructor training.

This is done mainly by Opetustarvike Oy, an organization that develops different types of digital solutions for driver training. Their main products are driving simulators, study materials, textbooks, and driving applications. Additionally, they train the driving instructors.

A massive change in the way driver training was conducted in Finland occurred in late 2015. Until then, anyone wishing to learn how to drive could only complete the theoretical part of the lessons through face-to-face classes.

“Things were done as in the old days, and schools were a little reluctant to change their methodology. Despite this, state policies were modified, allowing the integration of digital platforms into education,” explains Harri Keski-Rekilä, managing director of Opetustarvike Oy.

The new government policies have made it possible for students to complete their 19 hours of required theory lessons through online learning.

It was then that Harri decided to bet on something new and different that would revolutionize learning pedagogy and would also facilitate teaching for all: Blackboard Collaborate. This powerful video conferencing tool has been ideal for developing online simulations and has also generated revolutionary advances in driving programs, as they allow the user to have greater experience-based learning.

Why use Blackboard Collaborate?

Harri Keski-Rekilä listed five reasons why Blackboard Collaborate has significantly improved programs at Autokoululiitto driving schools:

  1. Easy-to-use overall
  2. No software needed to be installed in order to use it
  3. Easy-to-join online sessions with one link provided to the instructor and a separate one for students
  4. Continuously improving: “It is good to see that it is always evolving and updated four times a year”
  5. Mobile application offered in Finnish

A Simple, Easy-to-use Solution

Accessing Blackboard Collaborate is simple, as it can be used on all platforms, Windows or iOS, on desktop or mobile devices. Students can connect to classes with just one click.

“Blackboard Collaborate has been a very useful tool for teaching theory lessons,” says Harri. According to him, the number of traditional classroom lessons has decreased, as most of the students now complete theoretical studies online. “Feedback on teaching has been good, and most of the driving instructors think that teaching online is modern and efficient.”

In some cases, instructors teach face-to-face classes and at the same time have students connected remotely through Blackboard Collaborate.

Driving programs have developed considerably since the association started using Blackboard Collaborate. In a short period, 60 driving schools have joined the initiative, and tens of thousands of students have been trained using online learning.

Harri believes that, in the future, independent online learning will be increasingly popular. He affirms that he would recommend Blackboard Collaborate for similar institutions. “It’s very reliable and easy to use.”

Photos: AFP Jussi Helttunen